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Specialists Hope to Demystify Algal Blooms During Farm Science Review

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Two Ohio State University experts will attempt to demystify potentially harmful algal blooms that have become more prevalent throughout Ohio in recent years during two related presentations at the university’s annual Farm Science Review. Blooms, or HABs, on public waters have drawn much attention in the media, but are still a mystery to many people, said Eugene Braig, Ohio State University Extension aquatic ecosystems program director. The blooms technically are caused by blue-green algae/cyanobacteria and are not true algae at all, he said. Braig will cover some of the problems that can be caused by HABs, the organisms that cause them, factors that contribute to blooms, and how to keep family and pets safe from possible HAB poisoning, during a Sept. 18 session titled “Harmful algal blooms.” The program will run 2-3 p.m. at the Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area. “HABs and their associated environmental problems are almost always directly linked to excessive nutrients in the water,” Braig said. “Factors contributing to HABs are complex, but will always involve nutrients to fuel them.”

 

Warm temperatures, prolonged still water, low water levels and a lack of competition from other plants and true algae are conditions that further contribute to HAB growth. “Farmers can potentially contribute to the problem through the runoff of fertilizer and soil nutrients,” Braig said.

 

Farmers can minimize their contributions to HABs by reducing runoff from, and retaining nutrients within agricultural fields; maintaining buffer strips of native vegetation along streams, ditches and other surface waters; not giving livestock direct access to streams; and not applying fertilizers to frozen, impenetrable fields. “These are just some of the practices that can make a difference within the agricultural community,” Braig said.

 

In a related session, Robyn Wilson, assistant professor of risk analysis and decision science in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, will present “Nutrient loss and water quality: A survey of farmer opinion,” from 11:30 a.m. to noon. The program also will take place at the Gwynne Conservation Area.

 

Farm Science Review is sponsored by Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, OSU Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Pre-show tickets are $5 at all OSU Extension county offices. Tickets are also available at local agribusinesses. Tickets are $8 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18-19 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 20.  Hoosier Ag Today will be broadcasting live from Farm Science Review

 

By Kyle Sharp